Developed in the mid-19th century for British and French military uniforms, it has since migrated into civilian wear. Trousers of such a fabric gained popularity in the U.S. when Spanish–American War veterans returned from the Philippines with their twill military trousers.
The etymology of the term chino is not certain. Because the cloth itself was originally made in China, the name of the trousers may have come from the country of origin, as "chino" means Chinese in Spanish. Another source identifies the root as the American Spanish language word chino, which literally means "toasted".
First designed to be used in the military and then taken up by civilians, chino fabric was originally made to be simple, hard-wearing and comfortable for soldiers to wear; the use of natural earth-tone colors also began the move towards camouflage, instead of the brightly colored tunics used prior. The British and then American armies started wearing it as standard during the latter half of the 1800s.
The pure-cotton fabric is widely used for trousers, referred to as chinos. The original khaki (light brown) is the traditional and most popular color, but chinos are made in many shades.
- Maitra, K. K. (2007). Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Clothing and Textiles. New Delhi: Mittal Publications. ISBN 978-81-8324-205-9.
- Operath, Larry (2006). Illustrated Dictionary of Textile. New Delhi: Lotus Press. ISBN 978-81-89093-62-4.
- Picken, Mary Brooks (1998). A Dictionary of Costume and Fashion: Historic and Modern. Mineola, NY: Courier Dover Publications. ISBN 978-0-486-40294-9.